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The Chronicle

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Photography as Witness

During the final liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto, Ross buried his negatives with other artifacts in the ground to preserve the photographic record he had created. Some inhabitants remained in the ghetto after the final liquidation to close down the factories, clean up and sort possessions. In January, 1945 as the Red Army approached Lodz the Germans ordered the remaining residents to dig mass graves. Instead, they went into hiding. There were 877 still hiding in the camp when the Red Army liberated Lodz on January 19, 1945. Henryk Ross, and his wife Stefania, were among them.

Following the liberation of the ghetto, Ross excavated the box of negatives and recovered this extraordinary archive. Although significant material was damaged, almost 3,000 negatives survived—the most comprehensive known collection of Holocaust ghetto photographs by a single Jewish photographer.

Ross’s work was preserved through an act of will. They demonstrate photography’s ability to bear witness to history and serve as a catalyst for change; to foster sympathy, awareness, and even critical commentary. Ross’s photographs aim to capture the events he witnessed—though the stories they tell are still open to new understandings.

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Sorted AscendingArtistTitle Date Accession #
Henryk Ross Two elderly men reading from same book1940-19442007/2047
Henryk Ross Ghetto residents seeking work at an employment office1940-19442007/2055
Henryk Ross Row of residents talking through fence of central prison prior to deportation1940-19442007/2064
Henryk Ross Ghetto residents held for deportation19422007/2068
Henryk Ross Two women in conversation, sitting on street bench1940-19442007/2073
Henryk Ross Fecal workers in the ghetto1943-19442007/2092
Henryk Ross Young boy pulling cart with belongings through the ghetto in winter1940-19422007/2098
Henryk Ross Men moving wagon with sacks1940-19442007/2102
Henryk Ross Female workers sewing1940-19442007/2128
Henryk Ross Man weaving at loom1940-19442007/2131
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